Having a family unit is very important to me and I had looked forward to that when I decided it was time to get married. I longed for the ideal family that I'd always pictured in my mind.
I never thought about having a big house with expensive furnishings, or going on regular overseas trips. I just wanted a life that's full of love, laughter and peace, and a family that brings out the best in you.
I've always admired men who are willing to go the extra mile for their children, from the smallest things like squatting in the middle of the park to tie their shoelaces to working very hard to earn extra income to provide them some comforts, or buy them presents, or perhaps take them somewhere for a holiday.
I've always loved to see a man who is able to openly show his affection for his family. I definitely wanted my children to have a father like that.
When I was growing up, I did not have much of my father's love; neither did I have many beautiful moments with him.
When I got married, I vowed that this would never happen to my children. I created an image of an ideal father for my children, one I wished I had, or anyone would have wanted.
I made my spouse promise that he would be a loving and caring father to our children, and he agreed. Marriage is supposed to be a contract, isn't is? Was I asking too much?
As for myself, I longed for a spouse who would be my partner, my lover and, most of all, my friend.
A friend with whom I could share my silliest or wildest dreams, or what happened at work, a book I had just read, the places I go to and, if possible, almost everything.
I wanted him to accept my family as his own. I wanted a happy life with a loving husband who takes the trouble to make me feel loved and appreciated.
Of course my ideal spouse should also be the kind of father I want for my children.
Alas, he broke the contract. He was far from what I'd idealised him as, and what he had promised to be.
A wide gap existed between my ideal spouse, my ideal family life and ideal self, and my real spouse, my real family life and the real me. As this gap widened over the years, I became very unhappy.
My only option was to close the gap. Initially I talked to him, I asked, I pleaded, then I screamed. I shouted and cried, but it all fell on deaf ears.
What had happened was that I was practically leading the life of a single mother.
I tried very hard to fill the lacunas in my heart by having lots of friends, pursuing my studies, reading and doing stuff that I enjoy, in the hope that I could hide from the real problem.
At least I would not be thinking so much about my unhappiness.
I also tried extremely hard to fill the gap in my children's hearts. I played kites with my son; I got into debt from taking my children on vacation.
I played multiple roles - loving parent, disciplinarian, religious cum moral teacher, friend, financial provider, etc. Despite all my efforts, I know it's not possible to seal the gap. So there it remains.
My heart bleeds when I see the frustration in my children's eyes, the hurt and longing for a father fiqure, the kind their friends and cousins have.
My heart aches when I feel the need, and I am resentful whenever I look at my married friends and siblings.
Sometimes I ask myself, why me? What did I do wrong? I've tried and tried to make amends, but "it takes two to tango".
The last thing I want is for my children to feel the way I did when I was a child. If their life turns out the same way, their children will feel the same too.
I decided things must change. I decided to put my foot down; it's better not to have a spouse than having one who brings misery to my heart.
I am deeply blessed because I have a wonderful family and friends.
Now, at 42, I'm starting my life anew, without the person who created a massive gap between what I idealised and what I really had.
It's not easy, especially when the other person sees no fault in himself. He's not going to back off because the gap is invisible to him.
It's not easy with people around you giving unwanted advice. It's even more difficult when, sometimes, you blame yourself or feel like giving up.
I gave him 18 years of my life to create an ideal family for me.
How long more should I wait for that "close to ideal spouse" to emerge?
When that happens, will my ideal family materialise? When all my children have left the nest?
I do not have the answers, but I do know what I want now. I want myself back so that I can give "her" a chance to narrow the gap between her ideal self and her real self.
I, too, want to provide the best for my children, and give them the kind of life that is as close as possible to my ideal.
Well, this is just what I want and what I wish for.